Skip to main content

Why You Should Hunt to Your Treestand

Racing to your treestand could cost you a trophy buck — spook fewer deer by slowing your roll and hunt along the way.

I don't know how it  happened — perhaps the nap had something to do with it — but I was 30 minutes late for my afternoon hunt. This was inexcusable — the peak of the rut and deer were moving — but it happens. Part of me wanted to race to my stand and settle in as quickly as possible, but experience guided me otherwise. Instead of walking briskly to my ladder stand in a proven oak funnel, I hunted to it.

As I slipped into view of the woods, I probed inside them with my binocular. Seeing nothing, I snuck forward 10 yards to scan new angles, and the silhouette of doe ears suddenly became obvious. I disappeared into the long grass and studied the area around the doe.

I picked out a second doe, loafing in the shadows, then another. I sat down right there, near the two track, content to wait and watch. After all, it was the peak of the rut, I held a rifle, and this makeshift stand on the ground was as good as the one in a tree.


Just then I spied motion. One glimpse through the 10X binoc confirmed the source: a buck€¦a big buck! It was mere yards from my vacant ladder stand and distracted by its harem. The palmated, heavy horns and triangular face


indicated he was an old buck€¦a shooter. I crawled inches to my right and found a hole in the undergrowth through which I could thread a 7mm TSX.

The buck stood broadside, 90 yards from me, so I wasted little time resting the rifle on my knee, finding his chest in the scope, and pulling the trigger. I'm not sure what he scores, but he's going on my wall.

Silent is Deadly

Cardinal sin No. 1 is to spook a mature buck moments before the hunt. Deer have memories. They know when danger is in their vicinity, and they'll often avoid a dangerous spot for a day or two if they're badly spooked.




Stealth is the key ingredient when making your way to your treestand. Using a downed tree or tall grass as a makeshift blind while walking could bring home a Boone & Crockett.

Mature bucks grow old by trusting each of their senses without having to verify it with another one. Many times if a mature buck hears a loud, foreign sound in his core area (where you've likely hung your stand), he'll simply turn and walk the other way, and you'll never know he was (almost) there. You'll hunt the whole morning — and perhaps for a few days later — wondering why Big Daddy didn't show up.

When it's dark and cold, or when you're running late, it's very tempting to walk as fast as possible to your deer stand. I've seen good hunters literally crash through the woods because they become fixated on reaching their safe and comfortable treestand before dawn breaks. But deer use their ears as effectively as any animal on earth, and if you blunder to your stand, your chance of spooking a buck is greatly increased.

Recommended


Spook fewer deer by minimizing your noise and disturbance in the woods. This means parking far enough away that deer can't hear your truck or ATV. Don't slam truck doors or clank metal climbing stands on your way in. Silence your cellphone. Avoid using a flashlight, if possible, and definitely don't talk.

Frequently, it's impossible to walk silently through dry oak leaves, but you can reduce the sound created by your steps if you slow down and tread lightly. Relax. Know that your stand will be there, and you won't be sweaty when you get to it. Stop every few steps so your sounds become less human-like. Move when the wind blows or an airplane passes.

It takes mental discipline, but if you do these simple things, you'll see more deer while you're on your stand. And if you keep your eyes up and hunt to your stand, you could just kill one before you climb up.

When to Walk, When to Run

Realize, however, that there are few absolutes in deer hunting. Some seasons, terrains, and scenarios are more conducive to sneaking to your stand than others.

For example, during bow season, on dry, leaf-laden ground, try to be as stealthy as possible, but do not dally. The odds for success with this short-range weapon are best via ambush from a tree, therefore you should maximize your time there. But while holding a firearm during the rut, trophy bucks can be killed from the ground if you get a favorable wind and you hunt to your stand.

If you routinely spook deer in the mornings before dawn, consider waiting until it gets light enough to shoot then still-hunt to your stand. In the afternoon, hunting to your stand is a no-brainer. Just allow an additional 30 minutes to get to it. After all, you've identified a good spot — that's why you hung your stand there — and deer are moving. Had I rushed to my stand on that November afternoon, as so many treestand-oriented hunters do, I wouldn't have killed that buck.

So slow down, relax, sneak, glass, and hunt to your stand. You might be surprised what's already there.

Current Magazine Cover

Don't Miss

The Essentials Gear Box.

Our editors have hand-picked these essential pieces of gear to make you a more successful hunter when you hit the game trails this season.

Learn More

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

Kevin Steele treks to the cedar breaks and coulees of north-central Nebraska for a shot at a big prairie whitetail.
Hunting

Cedar Break Bucks

David Draper is with Dory Schoby talking about the benefits of using red dots for hunting and taking a look at the Aimpoint Micro H2.
Gear

Aimpoint Red Dots for Hunting

David Draper is with Nathan Robinson of Winchester talking about the 6.8 Western Cartridge. It offers impressive long-range accuracy, low recoil and staggering knockdown power when you need it for both long-range shooting and hunting.
Gear

Winchester 6.8 Western

Joe Ferronato is joined by Luke Thorkildsen from Weather by to check out the Backcountry 2.0, which builds on the classic steel Mark V action — with some key updates.
Gear

Weatherby Mark V Backcountry 2.0

Nosler has some exciting new products. Mason Payer of Nosler shows our own Joe Ferronato new suppressors, 21 Chassis Rifle and Trophy Grade Ammunition.
Gear

New from Nosler!

Shawn Skipper of Leupold explains their Custom Dial System to Petersen's Hunting's Joe Ferronato.
Gear

Leupold CDS

Kevin Steele gets a chance to test this impressive rifle at Roundtable 2022.
Gear

CZ 600 Range

Petersen's Hunting's Dale Evans is with CJ Johnson of Bushnell checking out their new Elite 4X.
Gear

Bushnell Elite 4500 4X Scope

Tim Herald shares tips on how to best use a ground blind.
Learn

Trijicon Tip: Ground Blinds

Petersen's Hunting Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Petersen's Hunting App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Petersen's Hunting stories delivered right to your inbox.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Petersen's Hunting subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now